The production of hard cider is a rapidly growing industry in the North Central region of the United States. The aesthetic appearance of the fruit in hard cider apple production is negligible and so damage from fruit-feeding insect pests is less of a concern. However, foliar-feeding insects still pose a threat, killing young trees and impacting fruit size, yield and sugar content of fruit. To date, pest susceptibility and management research in apple has been done only with fresh-eating varieties. As more cider-specific varieties of apple are planted in the North Central region, knowledge regarding the susceptibility of cider apple varieties to foliar-feeding insects will improve the efficacy of insecticides by allowing growers to utilize plant host resistance to combat these insect pests. We propose a study to screen popular, cider apple varieties for foliar-feeding insect pest susceptibility, leading to the creation of a susceptibility index for each variety and specific knowledge of the timing at which each insect attacks young trees in Wisconsin. These data will provide a foundation for developing low-spray and certified organic disease management strategies for cider apple varieties based on susceptibility to insects.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Screen popular cider-specific varieties for foliage-feeding pest susceptibility
- Document pest incidence over the growing season
- Develop a pest susceptibility index for each variety and timeline of pest incidence in apple
- Share findings with local extension educators, through conference presentations and development of a factsheet